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With approximately 150 million workers across North America and Europe, the gig economy is booming. There are more opportunities than ever to pursue autonomous employment, with collaboration tools and co-working spaces simplifying day-to-day life and creating communities for remote workers. The idea of developing your own schedule and choosing which clients to work with on projects you enjoy is an appealing one to many. But, before jumping head-first into the gig economy, there are a few crucial elements that need to be considered. Here are a few tips on how to make the tech gig economy benefit your career.

Build Relationships Like a Full-Time Employee

Switching up offices (and coworkers) on a regular basis can be both exciting and overwhelming. Independent contractors are constantly meeting new professionals and forming relationships. Don’t stop there, though. Build rapport and keep in contact with valuable team members inside of every organization. Treat each company like you’re a full-time employee, meeting staff and familiarizing yourself with the office culture. You never know where connections may end up, so having your name, expertise, and great people skills top-of-mind with professionals all over the industry could lead to some incredible opportunities.

Similarly, develop relationships with recruiting and staffing firms that can connect you with clients. Share your career goals with a recruiter, who can pair you with projects that will help further your professional career, especially if you’re looking to try something outside of your typical lane of expertise. Instead of continuously searching for projects, recruiters work daily to get your talent in front of great companies.

Follow the 75/25 Rule

The IT industry is in a position of perpetual evolution. Tech professionals who can grow their familiarity with new technologies, programs, and methodologies are better equipped to stand out for the competitive positions they want. Full-time professionals have opportunities to expand their repertoire, but not always at the speed they would like.

On the other hand, gig workers are regularly put in situations where they can challenge themselves. As a rule of thumb, job seekers are recommended to seek out projects in which they meet at least 75% of the qualifications, providing themselves with new challenges to engage them and encourage their professional growth. That’s why as an IT consultant, it’s important to push your boundaries and accept roles where you can build upon your current knowledge and explore new technologies. If you step outside of your comfort zone, you also may discover new skills or interests that you want to pursue.

Communicate Your Success

In order to differentiate yourself from the competition, take initiative on your projects. Act like a team member, instead of a temporary employee and go a step further than what’s expected for the role. Present deliverables on every project, clearly listing out what you plan to accomplish during your tenure. Keep open the lines of communication and be receptive to all feedback. Consistently going beyond expectations quickly builds your credibility and lays the groundwork for great future relationships.

How to Make the Tech Gig Economy Benefit Your Career

A pre-requisite of being a successful independent contractor is understanding the challenges that come with the industry. Navigating uncharted territory can seem overwhelming but at the end of the day, the latitude over your schedule, independence from monotonous work, and unique networking and career opportunities are unheard of in any other sector. Opposed to feeling intimidated by the growing tech gig economy, it’s time to take advantage of all it has to offer.